Developing the Traits of a Leader, Part 2 – July 2006
By Sean Wolfington
Developing the Traits of a Leader, Part 2
Last month we looked at the collection of traits that help leaders arrive at the top; at a place where they are considered one of the best, if not the best, at what they do.
These leadership traits include discipline and the abilities to prioritize, to build trust, to influence others and to cast vision. Last month we looked closely at the ability to build self-discipline, and in this article we will examine the ability to prioritize.
No matter how gifted a leader is, his gifts will never reach their maximum potential without the discipline to prioritize. The ability to prioritize and work towards a stated goal is essential to a leader’s success. If we define success as the progressive realization of our goals, it becomes obvious that we need to develop the ability to prioritize our life.
In the car business, we hear about the “80/20” rule in a variety of ways.
Here’s another: Twenty percent of your priorities will deliver 80 percent of your production. In other words, if you spend 80 percent of your time and energy on the top 20 percent of what’s important to you, your effectiveness as a leader will increase dramatically. But don’t take my word for it – think about your own life and your work. Are there 20 percent of the people in the dealership who are responsible for 80 percent of the results? If so, determine which people are your top 20 percent producers and resolve to spend 80 percent of your “people time” with them. Have you noticed that 20 percent of the work you do gives 80 percent of your return? If so, delegate the rest or train someone else to do the other 80 percent that?s less effective work.
Organize or Agonize
Another phrase you may have heard is, “It’s not how hard you work, it’s how smart you work.” This requires a leader to learn how to juggle more than one high-priority project successfully, because if you’re living a life in which anything goes, it will ultimately become a life in which nothing goes.
In order to increase organization and reduce “agonization,” it helps to label each project and task in one of the following categories and tackle (or delegate) them accordingly:
– High Importance/High Urgency
– High Importance/Low Urgency
– Low Importance/High Urgency
– Low Importance/Low Urgency
Choose or Lose
Do you initiate or react when it comes to planning? Leaders tend to initiate and followers tend to react. Here’s a comparison: what those are.
– What delivers the greatest return? If you’re going to invest effort, it should be proportionate to the promised results.
– What’s most rewarding? Life is too short to waste our time on things we don’t enjoy, plus our best work happens when we’re doing something we enjoy.
Keep in mind that priorities are not set in stone; they continually shift and demand attention. To track priorities that never seem to stay put, it helps to evaluate them often using the questions above. Eliminate those that no longer seem relevant, because too many priorities can lead to paralysis. Have you ever looked up from the stack of reports, memos and papers on your desk to hear the phone ring and the door open all at once? It
How do leaders build their ability to choose? Many times priorities are not black and white, but shades of grey. The following questions will help in your priority process:
– What’s required of me? In other words, “What do I have to do that no one else can do?” Leaders can give up anything except final responsibility, but many responsibilities can be delegated to someone else. Figure out can lead to a frozen feeling. You may want to schedule time to revisit your priorities once a month and learn to say “No” to the good in order to say “Yes” to the best.
Sean Wolfington is the owner of BZResults.com. He can be contacted at 866.802.5753, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.